1 x 2-hour seminar weekly
Enrolment not permitted
1 of WMST3001, WMST9003, WMST9010 has been successfully completed
Assumed knowledge
As a third-level, core topic in the Women's Studies major sequence, this topic assumes a familiarity with the kinds of knowledge, conceptual understandings and skills that would be acquired by the completion of at least 9 units of second-level topics from the Women's Studies major sequence.
Course context
Associated major: Women's Studies
Assignment(s), Tutorial participation
Topic description
The traditions of (white-western) philosophy and social theory usually focus on the mind: to borrow from Descartes, 'we think, therefore we are'. But what happens if we switch attention to the body? How does our bodily experience influence our construction of knowledge, power and theory? This topic surveys a number of influential feminist theorists of the body and examines their contribution to ideas and practices in women's studies. The emphasis is on understanding various theories about gender, subjectivity and power that underpin different points of view on topics such as eating disorders, surgical modifications, sexualities, and more. It examines difference in two senses: sexual difference (that is, differences in men and women's corporeal experience); but also differences within the categories of 'women' and 'men' (incorporating other differences such as 'race', ethnicity, age, sexuality, and class). It is interdisciplinary, drawing from feminist philosophy, sociologies of the body, and cultural studies.
Educational aims
The aims of the topic are:
  • to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to understand relationships between gender, body and subjectivity in contemporary feminist thought;
  • to offer relatively in-depth exposure to some of the main theoretical approaches informing contemporary feminist thinking about the body and subjectivity;
  • to develop students' skills in analysing arguments and their theoretical frameworks;
  • to develop students' skills in researching and critically analysing debates in Women's Studies
Expected learning outcomes
After successfully completing this topic students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of relationships between gender, body and subjectivity in contemporary feminist thought
  2. Identify and employ some of the main theoretical approaches that inform contemporary feminist thinking about the body both within and across disciplinary boundaries
  3. Critically analyse a variety of arguments and theoretical frameworks

      In the process, students should also:

    • Improve their ability to think critically and form independent judgements
    • Improve their written and verbal communication skills
    • Work collaboratively, independently, and ethically.